Yeppoon to Mackay – part 1.
Finally, after five weeks of waiting on others it was time to move on. We hadn’t got everything we wanted but some things can wait. It does get extremely frustrating when after waiting so long for tradesmen and you think it’s all done you have to go back and fix their work before you can leave.
One job the electrician was doing for us was to ‘test and tag’ our shore power extension cord. The old plug was cracked and needed replacing so he went and did that for us but neglected to consider that the new one was too big to fit back through the cord channeling in the dock. Before letting go I had to go and take it off, pull the cord through and then put the plug back on.
The plan now was to sail the nine nautical miles across to Great Keppel Island for the night and get an early, sunrise start to head north. The winds were forecast to be light so it was a slow sail for most of the way until they dropped completely and we had to motor the last few miles to anchor again at Leeke’s Beach. The winds, what there was, were light onshore but nothing to be of any concern.
As the day started to lighten we got up, lifted the anchor and began the long motor sail northwards towards Pearl Bay. For quite a while it seemed we were the only boat going anywhere but we did spy ‘Notorious’ (a replica 15th century Portuguese caravel) slowly making her way north too. Later in the day there was also two or three boats heading south. We did see a couple of whales along the way. It is always something special to see these magnificent creatures.
The coastline along the way appears to be rather remote and, due to a large portion of it being Commonwealth land, free from any development. It is a pity the Commonwealth use it for military training. The Shoalwater Bay area is huge and encompasses our planned anchorage – Pearl Bay. When not in use for live firings the bay and Port Clinton are accessible for boats to visit and anchor.
It was an easy motor into Pearl Bay and drop anchor just before sunset. There were a few other boats in there but plenty of room for one more. The afternoon was spent with a relaxing sundown beer watching lots of fish, turtles and a dugong around the boat. As the sun rose the following day the number of boats thinned out so we found ourselves to be the only boat in the anchorage for the afternoon. Until the schooner – South Passage arrived. The day was spent walking along the beach picking up shells and enjoying the peace and quite of the remote area. It seems to be sacrilegious that the area plays host to Nations testing the military powers.
After two nights and a lovely day ashore the anchor was lifted once again to keep nosing eh way north. The day was to be a shorter sail to Hexham Island for an overnight stay before heading further north again. Once started I felt the seawater cooling wasn’t working to it fullest so once outside we stopped the engine and I refilled the seawater strainer before heading off again.
Again the light winds meant it was more motoring than sailing to get to our destination. It seems like, for now, things were going smoothly. We arrived at Hexham Island just on lunchtime and settled the boat for the night – but that is another story altogether